DO AS THE DANES DO
With four blissful days to explore Denmark’s capital city, Hasmita Amtha discovers the culinary gems that make Copenhagen a warm and inviting place
If your New Year’s resolution is to travel, you should consider Copenhagen for a lesson on how life should be lived
Arriving with the morning, we make our way from the airport to a breakfast spot in the heart of the old city. Travelling from the outskirts, we pass through the morning rush; I say ‘rush’, yet there’s a cool and calm nature to the city as its people go about their business – all in unison with the utmost respect towards one another.
“Does everyone cycle around town?” a fellow South African tourist asks our Danish travel companion, Ditte Furstrand Nytofte – travel trade and PR project manager at Wonderful Copenhagen, the tourism organisation for the Capital Region of Denmark – as the rest of us glance over a rather indulgent breakfast menu.
We’re at one of Ditte’s favourites: Conditori La Glace. One of the oldest (and believed to be the best) confectionery outlets in Denmark, Conditori La Glace is a family-owned business that’s been passed on to several generations since 1870. While we wait for our orders, some of us sip on coffee while others indulge in traditional hot chocolate, which comprises blocks of chocolate melted into a mix of warm, sweet milk and double-thick cream. For added indulgence, each drink comes topped with whipped cream.
Going back to the Danes and their means of commuting, Ditte smiles and says: “This is why we can indulge in cake for breakfast – cycling is not only great for your health, but it’s also best for the environment.” This cycling culture has influenced Copenhagen’s road planning, with bike lanes and cycling-friendly bridges that can be seen throughout the city and suburban areas. “Everyone cycles here; our children learn from a young age to cycle to school. It’s a way of life,”
Breakfast is served and includes a selection of kanelsnegle (sweet
cinnamon rolls), croissants, almond pastries and slices of two of La Glace’s speciality layer cakes: georginekage (a macaroon base topped with layers of cream, light vanilla sponge and preserves, and decorated with whipped cream and fresh strawberries), and appelsinkage (a macaroon base topped with layers of light vanilla sponge and orange custard, and covered in orange-flavoured icing, decorated with caramelised orange slices with a rim of buttercream).
A FEAST FOR THE EYES
With some time to play before we check into the newly refurbished Hotel SKT. Annæ, which will be our home for the next four days, Ditte takes us through one of Europe’s longest pedestrian streets, Strøget, for a spot of shopping at budget-friendly chain stores, as well as high-end fashion boutiques like Louis Vuitton and Prada. While sales at familiar clothing retailers like Zara and H&M excite us, we find ourselves drawn to the Scandinavian design stores that line the street, so we have a quick browse through HAY, Søstrene Grene, Georg Jensen, Royal Copenhagen and Illums Bolighus, while taking note of which ones we’ll ensure a return to.
A GOURMAND’S PARADISE
The Nordic region is well known for its design savviness; and its culinary presence is not shy of brilliance either. Last year, Michelin Guide
Nordic Countries 2018 awarded a total of 19 Michelin stars to 15 restaurants in Copenhagen alone.
Yet, the proof is in the pudding (or lunch, in this case), so we head to Michelin-starred eatery Restaurant Palægade, where we’re introduced to traditional Danish open sandwiches. Better known as smørrebrød, these are made up of slices of rye bread loaded with a variety of toppings (think everything from herring and homesmoked salmon to mushrooms à la crème). Restaurant Palægade offers a whopping selection of 40 different toppings that each pair well with locally produced beer, akvavit (a flavoured, distilled spirit), and fruity or aromatic snaps [schnapps].
Alternatively, a “green” meal might be something you’re keen on. If that’s the case, be sure to visit simpleRAW, which is situated on Gråbrødretorv square (one of the most picturesque piazzas in the Latin Quarter – a historic neighbourhood in central Copenhagen), and try out their vegan and raw-food offerings.
On our second day, we decide to stop here for brunch and aptly order brunch boards, each of which includes a poké bowl (comprising organic tofu, cauliflower rice, avocado, red cabbage, mango, seaweed, pickled ginger and cucumber); rice-paper rolls with avocado, served with tamari sauce; parsley spread on a carrot cracker; avocado on a slice of gluten-free raw seed bread; and a slice of triplechocolate cake. With sustainable living in mind, the menu changes seasonally, so it’s worthwhile to revisit this little gem if you’re ever in Copenhagen more than once.
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
Dinner is always a highlight when travelling and, while the Danes tend to be rather casual about their dress code (even at Michelin-starred restaurants), we decide to don our glad rags for our first night out in the Scandinavian city. Wearing our best, we sit down at Michelinstarred restaurant 108 (known as the little brother of world-famous Danish restaurant Noma), where we experience chef and co-owner
Kristian Baumann and his team’s style of cooking, which focuses on local ingredients and established preserving methods, like pickling and fermenting.
During our second night we move from fine dining to a more traditional dinner made modern at Brdr. Price in Tivoli Gardens (an amusement park in central Copenhagen). This inviting spot is as comforting as childhood memories of walking around a theme park while enjoying a huge cloud of pink candyfloss.
Thus far, we feel as if we’ve experienced it all; until our third evening when we arrive at the summer house of Meet the Danes’ founder and owner, Anett Wæber. This innovative
THE SELECTION OF SWEET TREATS AT CONDITORI LA GLACE WILL MAKE ANY HEART SWOON
A VISIT TO RESTAURANT PALÆGADE WILL FUEL YOU FOR AN AFTERNOON OF EXPLORING OUR DESSERT AT BRDR. PRICE: A SWEET BOARD SERVED WITH COFFEE
MICHELIN-STARRED RESTAURANT 108